The League of Cities of the Philippines conducted a virtual dialog with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on May 26 to improve the coordination and collaboration between the agency and the city mayors in addressing the long-standing issue of illegal drugs in the country.
Leading the dialog were LCP national president and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, and PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva.
Leonardia told Villanueva, “We are happy that we not only opened the communication lines between us, but this has also established communications lines between us. The League is committed to cooperating, collaborating, and working with PDEA.”
He said the dialog was arranged by Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who is also the LCP focal mayor for anti-criminality and illegal drugs, a press release from the city said.
“May I give credit to Mayor Benjie Magalong for having thought of this. He is one asset of LCP for his background on anti-illegal drugs. We made the right choice of making him the focal mayor. Now that we see the interpersonal relationship between the two, we expect that there will be a better collaboration and cooperation between the PDEA and the city mayors,” Leonardia added.
Villanueva gave a presentation on the agency’s Barangay Drug-Clearing Program and other important concerns.
He underscored the gains of the Barangay Drug-Clearing Program in which barangay officials help report drug personalities and illegal drug activities to authorities.
The program includes the establishment and strengthening of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council, identification of drug personalities, intervention program on drug personalities, monitoring of respondents and reformists, sustainability and livelihood programs, establishment of community drug watch, preventative education program, and maintaining the community as drug-free.
Magalong said he has observed that the drug-clearing operations being conducted by some LGUs are done “half-heartedly.”
“This is something that we need to thresh out and resolve because it imperils, and at the same time, impacts our genuine drug-clearing operations,” he added.
Meanwhile, Magalong brought up with PDEA the concern on the inclusion of mayors in the PDEA drugs watchlist. Some of these mayors are innocent and are just victims of political harassment, he added.
The online dialog was joined by 24 city mayors and 20 representatives of local chief executives.*